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Cisco Expands Integrated Services Router Line, Adds Wireless And Security Features

Low-cost devices are aimed at small and midsize businesses, where Cisco faces tough competition.

Building on the successful launch last year of its integrated services routers, Cisco Systems on Monday expanded the line with devices aimed at small and midsize businesses, and added wireless LAN and improved security and management capabilities to the entire product line. The routers include voice, data, security, and now wireless capabilities in one device.

Cisco says it has shipped more than 100,000 integrated-services routers since September and that orders are coming in a rate that would produce more than $1 billion in annual sales. The integrated networking devices appeal to branch offices and small businesses that don't have many or any IT resources on site to deploy and manage the routers, says Jeanne Dunn, senior director of routing and switching product marketing for Cisco. "The key thing is to not just integrate but to make them much simpler to deploy and manage," she says.

Cisco introduced the 800 series and the 1800 series of integrated services routers, which include VPN encryption, acceleration hardware, security features including a firewall, intrusion-prevention software, network-admission control, URL filtering, and support for VPNs using high-speed encryption.

The 1800 Series is a managed 8-port device that offers virtual LANs and power-over-Ethernet capabilities and starts at $1,295. The 800 Series includes the 870 model, a 4-port switch that starts at $649, and the 850 model, a 10/100 Mbps switch that starts at $399. They join the larger 2800 and 3800 series of integrated services routers.

The entire line now provides wireless LAN capabilities, either built-in or via modular wireless interface cards. Cisco also introduced 16-, 24-, and 48-port EtherSwitch modules, which include power-over-Ethernet features, for the 2800 and 3800 series. It also rolled out serial and asynchronous high-speed WAN interface cards.

Cisco also enhanced its network analysis and management features, which include improved bandwidth estimation for user-defined quality of service, and updated its application and content-networking system, which helps to manage traffic and optimize WAN bandwidth.

"Cisco is seeing a lot of competition from other vendors that are trying to get a piece of the router pie," says Matthias Machowinski, an enterprise voice and data analyst with Infonetics Research. "Cisco is continuing to innovate and trying to broaden the appeal of their product line."

Machowinski says the new routers may appeal to managed service providers because they can place a single device at a customer location that can be used to provide a variety of services.

He called the inclusion of wireless "interesting," but said he isn't sure how much appeal it will have to small businesses. "I see wireless more often in larger companies," he says. "For smaller businesses, it's a nice-to-have, not a must-have."

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